Costa Brava: Portbou to Castelló d’Empúries

Portbou to Llançà

From Portbou it’s a 235 km walk to Blanes along the old path (Camí de Ronda) once used by the Guardia Civil to control the coast and stop smuggling.

Our first day on the Costa Brava (Wild Coast): train from Figueres to Portbou then walk to Llançà,10km which took 3½ hours. The path more or less follows the coast with a couple of climbs thrown in – nice views of the beaches, oceans and hills.

Portbou train station opened 1878, now semi-derelect, is the border stop & rail gauge change for France

The walk starts on the beach at Portbou, goes straight up hill …

… follows the old “anti-smugglers” path and …

… then descends to the next beach …

…the sea is calm, clear and inviting

Llançà’s shady main plaza with a 13th century Romanesque tower, and bar

Llançà to Cadaqués

Todays walk followed the coast from Llançà for 8km then climbed up and over the mountains to Cadaqués making a total of about 18km, 4¾ hours.

We set off early to avoid the heat …

… and to capture the morning light

We could see Far de Sarnella lighthouse flashing since we left Llançà

After following the coast to El Port de la Selva, the trail heads up into the hills

Sant Pere de Rodes, former Benedictine monastery, has existed since 878 – Romanesque

One of the stone shepherd’s shelters in the hills

A rough rocky path between high stone walls descends to Cadaques

We took the high path and were rewarded with this view of Cadaques as we descended

Many people returned rich from Cuba and constructed large, ornate houses

Cadaques Church of Santa Maria was rebuilt in the mid-16th century

Cadaqués to Roses

Cadaqués to Roses, founded in the 5th century BC by the Greeks, is 21km which took us 6½ hours. The first half was relatively easy going mostly along dirt roads but the second half we found “challenging” – hugging the spectacular but rugged coast on rough paths, dropping down to every beach and then climbing back up. We arrived exhausted.

21km today so a pre-dawn departure from Cadaques

Old stone slabs support an electric fence beside the track

A beautifully made and preserved path

Down to this pretty cove … and back up again

Crystal-clear Mediterranean waters

A beach at Roses – we even went for a swim; the water’s cold

Roses to Castelló d’Empúries

From Roses to Castelló d’Empúries is only about 12km – a flat, fast and easy 2½ hours through meadows of drained marshes.

Visible from afar is the outstanding Catalan Gothic style Basílica de Santa Maria from the 13th century, the second largest building in the Costa Brava after the Girona Cathedral.

The day starts at the ruined fortification Ciutadella de Roses, dating from 16th century

The marshes here were drained in the 18th century; canals & paths created

Public laundry at the edge of Castelló d’Empúries, constructed 1871

Basilica Santa Maria, building started 1259 in Catalan Gothic style …

… and finished in the 15th century with this grand marble portal

Santa Maria reflected in the moat

Muralla (Wall) de Castelló d’Empúries

Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park

We spent our day off in Castelló d’Empúries taking a 3 hour walk through the nearby marshlands. With over 100 species of birds visiting the park there’s a good chance of spotting a few.

Birds in the wetlands